You get home from a long day of work and sit down for dinner with your family. You clean up the dishes, get the kids to bed, and start getting the craving for something sweet. Nighttime snacking is one of the biggest concerns that walk through my door. Almost every person that comes to me with this problem also identifies that they’re eating out of boredom or habit instead of true hunger, but can’t get away from it. So what can you do? Can night snacking be a part of a balanced diet? Should you stop eating at a certain time?
If you must have something, focus on portion control when giving in to your sweet tooth: Having a small dessert CAN be a part of a balanced diet that allows for weight maintenance. What and how much you choose to eat will play a big role in this though. When reaching for something sweet at night, try to choose items that are already in portion-controlled packages or lightened up options of what you’re craving. Some examples include:
- Banana “ice cream:” Place a frozen banana in a food processor and blend until smooth. This gives you a dose of natural sugars and potassium as well!
- Lightened ice cream varieties: A common food trend in grocery stores is light ice creams, which are designed to be higher in fiber and protein. Popular brands include Halo Top, Enlightened, Ben & Jerry’s Moo-phoria, Artic Zero, and Breyer’s Delights. These tend to contain 60-160 calories per ½ cup serving.
- Single Serving Packages: Trail mix (different blends sold at Trader Joe’s), 100-calorie packs of nuts, Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar pita chips, granola or cereal.
A better option: find an alternative to your evening routine: If you’re snacking out of boredom or relaxation, find something that distracts you from food. Switch up your routine to keep your mind off of food.
- Read a book or a magazine article
- When the weather is warmer and daylight is longer, go for a walk after dinner.
- Clean the house.
- Watch television in a room far away from the kitchen.
- Identify what’s triggering you to eat! Is it watching TV? Sitting on the couch? Stress? If you can find the patterns surrounding your snacking, you can better strategize how to break the cycle.